Chapter

Is There Happiness in the Torah?

Nathan MacDonald

in The Bible and the Pursuit of Happiness

Published in print October 2012 | ISBN: 9780199795734
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979691 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199795734.003.0002
Is There Happiness in the Torah?

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This chapter pursues happiness in the Torah with reference to Aristotle’s classic definitions of happiness in the Nicomachean Ethics and Rhetoric. The chapter notes points of both similarity and dissimilarity between the Hebrew and Greek materials. For one thing, in Israel, the happy life comes from obedience to Torah not via Aristotelian virtue, and luck has very little, if indeed anything, to do with it. But happiness in the Torah, as in Aristotle, also has to do with “mundane realities” such as family life, children, land, fruitfulness, and so forth. Perhaps most importantly, the shape of the Torah means that happiness is oriented toward a telos and is thus open-ended. In many ways God’s people are on their way to happiness.

Keywords: happiness; Pentateuch/Torah; Aristotle; ancestors; tabernacle; virtue; children; luck

Chapter.  8163 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies

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